Storytime. “My great great grandson wants to be an actor and I want to give him something inspiring,” Olive said as she inched her way into the shop using her walker. “He’s only fourteen but I want to give him something now to encourage him, something he will remember me by.”
I showed Olive the Pop! Vinyl we had of Lucille Ball in a classic I Love Lucy pose. “I loved Lucy, I did.” Olive’s eyes lit up as she admired the vinyl figure. “I’ll take it. It’s perfect. He’ll remember.”
People love giving gifts they are remembered for. This I Love Lucy figure is perfect for that.
We hear life stories at the shop counter that remind us how much we love retail.
Storytime. This one’s from many years ago. Beth’s marriage had ended unexpectedly and she found herself needing to learn to drive so she could ferry the kids around. After a frantic few weeks grinding gears and learning the road rules, Beth got her licence. I found out about this because Gary, her second eldest came in and told me. “I’ve got to find a card for mum,” he said, “she got her driver’s licence and us kids want to give her a card. Is there a card for that?”
I found the one card we had. “She’ll like that,” said Gary, as he pulled out a handful of coins to pay. He was thrilled to find a perfect fit card.
We still have a card for people who get their driver’s licence. We don’t sell that many, but when we do, people usually tell us the story. We love that.
Storytime. “I need to buy a bridal charm for my daughter.” The fifty-something chap at the counter was clear about what he needed. “She’s getting married in a month and I need to find a perfect bridal charm.” “Okay,” I said, thinking for a moment. The request was challenging because the customer was blind. Sensing my hesitation, he offered, “Don’t worry, I’ll know it when I feel it, if you’ll let me feel the charms you have that is.” “Give me a couple of minutes,“ I said.
I had a table at the back of the shop where I was pricing new stock. I moved that aside laid out all the bridal charms we had and sat Terry down to do through them. We had introduced ourselves by then.
As he was gently feeling each charm, Terry explained. “My wife died unexpectedly a few months ago and she had her heart set on finding a perfect bridal charm.” After maybe half an hour at the table, Terry had made a decision. He held up a beautifully decorated heart shaped charm. “Perfect,” I said.
A product to us is heartfelt memory to others.
Storytime. Susie put four scrapbooks, a couple of glue sticks, some glitter and a couple of packs of colour markers in front of me at the counter saying “that will keep the terrors busy this weekend.” Susie was a young mum with 4 kids between 6 and 12 years old. She called the kids “the terrors” when she was shopping without them. “What’s the plan?”, I asked. “Iso scrapbooks.” Susie seemed pleased with her answer, but she could tell from the look on my face that I didn’t get it. “Twenty, thirty, forty years from now I want them to have a memory of what these few months this year have been like, so this weekend we’re making scrapbooks.” “What about you and Rob?”, I wondered, before grabbing two more scrapbooks and added them to the pile – “hey, these 2 are on me as long as you bring them all back and show me.”
Scrapbooks leave the shop blank and empty. Soon, they become keepsakes, treasure troves of memories.
Storytime. Vicky was standing near the counter holding a birthday card but looking around. It’s easy to pick a customer who wants something but can’t find it. I looked across at her. “Here’s what it is,” she said. “His nibs has a birthday and he said he wants something for his man cave but I don’t want the usual stubby holders or beer. I want to give him something unexpected.”
Vicky was a regular and we knew ‘his nibs’, Mack. We knew Mack loved his country music. “I bet he’s a Shania Twain fan,” I said. “He loves Shania,” Vicky was excited.
I found a Shania Twain Pop! Vinyl figurine and handed it to Vicky. “This is perfect. Shania Twain in the man cave. I knew you’d have something”. The smile on Vicky’s face said it all.
It made our day. The gifts that mean the most can be the ones that most surprise.